Gardner man arrested in connection with riot at U.S. Capitol

Crime

GARDNER, Kan. (KSNW) – A 22-year-old Gardner man was arrested for an alleged role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress to certify the election of President Joe Biden.

The FBI says Ryan Keith Ashlock was taken into custody without incident agents. He was booked on federal charges of conspiracy; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; obstruction of justice/Congress; knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.

When Ashlock was taken into federal custody Monday, he became the ninth arrest in connection to the Capitol violence for the FBI’s Kansas City division. Several others in Kansas and Missouri have also been charged.

Megan Brooker, a visiting professor at University of Kansas Department of Sociology, said this means the Kansas City Proud Boys Chapter is likely active and organized. 

“I think the number of arrests from the Kansas City area is an indicator that that particular chapter was more active and more coordinated than previously believed, and that’s not going to immediately go away,” Brooker said.

“I think paying attention to who else might be connected to that group, whether or not they were at the Capitol riots, are worthy of attention and monitoring to assess what the next steps might be for an organization like this.” 

Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights executive director Devin Burghart previously told The Kansas City Star that Kansas City has a growing chapter of Proud Boys. He said his organization has documented more than 40 members of the local chapter.

The FBI has connected Ashlock to the Kansas City Proud Boys. Authorities say three other metro men previously charged — Christopher Kuehne, Louis Colon and William Chrestman — are also a part of the local Proud Boys, a pro-western fraternal men’s group that refuses to apologize for creating the modern world. The Kansas City Chapter gives members challenge coins, according to court records.

According to the affidavit, Ashlock marched with the Proud Boys and helped the group knock down barricades between police and rioters.  

The FBI said Ashlock admitted to investigators during an interview on Feb. 11 that he was at the Capitol and coordinated with other members of the Proud Boys. He told investigators he left the grounds after he was hit with pepper spray.

“However (Ashlock) ultimately denied that his actions were criminal,” the affidavit reads.

Brooker says people should be paying attention to the arrests related to the Capitol violence. 

“We want to say that white supremacists are a small contingent of the very far right and not a concern,” she said. “But I think it’s just showing that that we can’t come to that conclusion even if some of this ideology might be kind of subtly harbored. It can be activated.”

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